Drag Racing: Bike Edition is exactly what it sounds like: last year’s game, now with bikes

From the outside looking in, drag racing looks pretty easy when you get down to it. I mean the building of the car seems like the tough part. On race day you just go fast and straight. Right? I’m sure there’s a lot more to it, but to the untrained eye it’s easy to miss any of those nuances. I’m not alone though, as the developers of Drag Racing: Bike Edition have boiled their gameplay down to something pretty super simple as well.

At its core the game really couldn’t be much simpler. It’s all about the flat out straight line drag race. As such there are no controls for turning or braking. Heck, even the acceleration is taken care of for you. All you’re responsible for is the perfect shift into the next gear, tapping the screen at just the right time to upshift and go just a little bit faster. Other than needing occasionally tap for a nitro boost, that’s really all there is to it.

So why is it so compelling? Well, the simplicity certainly has something to do with it. But in addition to that, there’s this tension that often arises as the short races proceed, because when you’re ahead only a perfect shift is going to keep you there. Likewise, when you have a bad start, the only way to catch up is to execute those shifts and nitros perfectly.

It doesn’t hurt that the races only last for a few seconds at a time, so if you get the pants beat off you, it’s simple to tune the bike a bit differently and try it again. You’ll know in about three seconds whether or not you can win.

You’ll race for cash and prizes that you can use to upgrade your bike (or buy a whole new one). The garage lets you add/change things like engines, exhausts, tires, nitrous systems and the like. Most upgrades either lighten the bike or increase the horsepower though, so don’t expect that you’ll need to know the intricacies of bike tuning to figure it all out. It’s all pretty arcade-y.

 Bike Edition

The problems that were present in the previous entry in the series, Drag Racing, are mostly here. The freemium model is still shaky, and developers need to tread lightly on when and where they impose microtransaction funnels. I found it a bit off-putting that I spent money earned in-game to put a nitro system on my bike, but then had to buy canisters of said nitro in order to use it in a race.

In addition that you also need a certain amount of RP (Racing Points) to open up some of the items for upgrade and some of the races. You can earn these in-game in order to open most items, however you run into a wall very early on where they begin to be in short supply, and you’re steered towards plunking down some money. With the system in place here, I’d much rather plunk down a few bucks to buy a complete game rather than run into these paywalls.

 Bike Edition

What’s especially frustrating about these micropayments here is that no matter what, the AI opponents will have access to those nitrous boosts, consistently putting you at a disadvantage unless you pony up a few extra dollars here and there. It’s either that or blow the cash you’d otherwise use for upgrades on the boosts. Either way, it just feels a bit too much like they’re taking advantage of you.

It’s strangely compelling for how simple it is, but then again I remember saying the same exact thing a year ago when I was talking about Drag Racing. If you played that title at all (and I played it a lot), then you realize pretty early on that Drag Racing: Bike Edition is really just the same exact game with a different vehicle set dropped on top. There’s nothing really different gameplay wise, and it all feels a little too familiar if you’ve been down this road before.